This morning, about an hour before we'd planned to leave for our visit to Sana and Essa, I received a call from Sheba's ICU. They were requesting that we come immediately to be with Sana's mother because Sana was in very poor condition. After I shared the news, we gathered to pray, and then traveled as quickly as we could to the hospital.
Upon entering the ICU I could see doctors gathered at Sana's bedside, and Sana's mother standing nearby, weeping. The next hour and a half were spent praying, weeping, comforting, and trusting God, as several of us came alongside Sana and her mother. At one point I shared with Sana's mother that because I am a follower of Jesus, and firmly believe he is resurrected from the dead, that therefore he has the power to give life over death. I shared that I would not give up on this power, because the great love of God compelled him to send his son to overcome man's sinful condition. I said that I will believe God can change Sana's condition, no matter what happens before my eyes. Indeed, I believed and hoped to see Sana miraculously restored to life.
But today, this is not what happened. This beautiful girl died this afternoon, breaking the hearts of her dear family and all of us. It is a crushing loss. After a time to say goodbye to her precious daughter, we brought Sana's mother back to Jerusalem to remain with us while all the arrangements are made for their travel home. Please pray for all of the family as they wait to receive their loved ones again.
For those of us who have been alongside Sana and her mother, we are intensely sorrowful. Yet nothing will shake our confidence in the ability of God to bring his power to those in need of it. So let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Jairus came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." So Jesus went with him...
While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagoge leader. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher anymore?"
Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, "Don
Medically speaking things are not much different for Sana at the Sheba Medical Center, and today's visit was a difficult one. She is resting under sedation again so that she will not feel the pain from her condition and the treatment it requires. There is some bleeding in her airway and esophageal passageway, and doctors are treating it with blood products and medication, waiting for a good response to the treatment. The lack of circulation to her extremities continues.
Very soon after I arrived doctors asked Sana's mother and I to leave the room so that they could replace bandages. Immediately following that, they needed us to stay out for a time to change the central line for her hemofiltration treatment. A larger one was placed to balance all factors involved in how her medication, hemofiltration, and circulatory system work together with all the other factors in her fragile condition. After the new line was in place, the specialists from the dilation staff came to re-start the hemofiltration machine. At that time, we had to head back to Jerusalem.
Sana's mother remains vigilant in her loving concern and watchful care of Sana as the ICU staff does their job, 24/7, to help Sana recover. She is tired, and asks for us to be with her more. The intensity of the circumstances makes for a heavy burden which she shares with her dear husband via telephone visits, with other friends and family members, and those of us who can visit her and Sana. We continue to look to the Lord to help Sana, to strengthen her mother and father, and to give us what is needed to come alongside them in the best way at this time. We make our requests known to God, and continue trusting his goodness and his ways. We ask for your prayers in all of these things, and also for wisdom and courage for the dedicated and caring medical staff who are attending Sana.
Today I again had the chance to visit Sana at Sheba Medical Center. When I was about to enter her room I suddenly remembered that Donna had told me the previous day that they had moved Sana to a bigger room with windows to the outside. I found Sana with half open eyes, responding to touches and speaking by facial expressions and eyes movement. Her mother was tired but seemed stronger than I had expected her to be.
We spent some time around Sana
Last Friday morning, after staying twenty-four hours a day for sixteen days at the Sheba Medical Center, we made the decision to return to a more "normal" routine of visitation and support for Sana and her mother, and Essa and his mother. It was not an easy decision in the sense of intensity of the need there. Yet all of us knew it was the right one in the sense of having done what we could to help carry the load for this time period, for these families. We left Sana with slight improvement, and upon calling the ICU intermittently in our absence, found that her condition continued to fluctuate. We know her mother is there, as are all the others, fluctuating along with the condition of her precious daughter. And yet the truth is that at any moment, the God in whom we trust, and to whom we're looking, can do the miracle we're asking of him. He doesn't require our presence for this, simply our faith in his goodness and ability. So we carry Sana, her mother, and her family in our hearts every moment in prayer and faith. God has not changed, nor is he any further away just because we've been less near to Sana's side.
Ruth and I were anxious to see her Sunday morning when we left Jerusalem, and thankful for the time we could spend with her mother in her long vigil. When we arrived, Sana was receiving hemofiltration for her kidneys. Doctors began this process on Saturday and it will be continuous for the time being. It not only does the job of the kidneys, but also improves her blood pressure, which had dipped dramatically lower several times over the weekend. Thankfully, it was steady while we were there. Sana's mother was understandably tired and melancholy. While I stayed with Sana, she took some time away to enjoy some fresh, home-cooked Kurdish food made by the other mothers at the Shevet house in Jerusalem.
As I love to do, and feel is important to do when I have opportunity, I stood at Sana's bedside and talked to her, sang to her, and prayed for her. I was encouraged to see that as I talked, her eyes, which were open, moved toward me. Ruth had noted before that both Sana's heart and respiratory rate increased when we spoke to her, and I noted this as well. Not only that, but she also moved her right shoulder once during the time I spoke to her. When Sana's mother returned, I shared this with her, and she too was encouraged. She began speaking to Sana and also saw Sana's eyes moving toward her. It seems Sana is definitely able to respond to our voices and encouragement, and nurses attending her agreed this is a good sign. We continue to hope she will fully awaken soon.
Just before we left for home, we received the report of a CT scan of Sana's brain which was done yesterday. Doctors ordered the scan to check for bleeding on the brain, but found nothing to indicate there was any bleeding. Praise God! It was not easy to say goodbye to Sana's mother, yet I assured her that God was with her, as were the prayers of people around the world. We will continue to believe for fullness of life for Sana in spite of the challenging things we see in the ICU. Please believe with us!
Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
We continued to see small signs of improvement in the last twenty-four hours for Sana as she remains asleep in the ICU. Most significant I believe was that her blood pressure improved following hemodialysis treatment yesterday evening, and she was stable afterwards. Because of this good result, by day's end today doctors were considering the frequency with which to continue hemodialysis, or whether to begin a different treatment. It is hoped that her kidneys will respond to the hemodialysis.
There was also encouragement over movement of Sana
"Hold on to hope." These words come to mind over and over as I spend time with Sana and her mother in the Sheba ICU. Today, beginning in the early morning hours, hope felt more tangible than it has in recent days. The Sheba staff began telling Sana's mother the results of blood work from Sana's hemodialysis treatment yesterday, and these numbers showed the treatment successfully lowering the dangerously high potassium level in Sana's blood. As more tests were done, it was clear that the level kept dropping, allowing for new techniques in addressing the other problems in Sana's body. Several blood pressure medications were changed, and then later today, a CT scan of Sana's brain was performed. As the hours ticked by, Sana's body began to respond to the changes. When the CT scan results came back, they showed normal brain activity. We celebrated each small step with hugs, thanks to God, and more prayer, gripping hope with all our might. Sana's mother rested better last night, and she seemed more settled today since evidence of tangible improvement is before us. But until we see Sana with the life she hopes for, the life God created her for, we will not stop watching and praying. Instead, we'll be sure our anchor is firmly set, and maintain our vigil of trust in what God will do.
Psalm 33:22 - "Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You."
(In order to be honoring of her family, and her young womanhood, we've not found any suitable photographic angle to convey Sana
Just as Kelsey and I were about to leave for Sheba last night to take our turn sitting with Essa and his mom, the hospital called asking that we bring Sana for admission. "Wow, what perfect timing!" I thought to myself as I ran up the stairs to share the great news with Sana and her mom. After the shock wore off and delightful realization set in, Sana shared something which made me even more aware of the beauty of the timing. She said that yesterday she went outside to sit on our rooftop area and talk to God. She said she prayed that if Thursday is a good day for her surgery, to please let the hospital call, but if it wasn't, it was ok, and she knew God would have the right time later. You can imagine the look on her face and the tone of her voice as she shared this experience after receiving the phone call to come for surgery. She was so excited to be going forward after offering her prayer, one would think she was going on vacation!
After admission, Sana was settled into her room, and before long was watching intently as the cannula was put in for her IV medication. She was instructed to eat as much as she wanted until midnight, after which time she must fast in preparation for Thursday morning